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For Australian Men, Hard Health = Heart Health

Men’s bedroom issues may be a worrying prelude to more serious health issues down the line, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has warned Australian men in the lead up to Men’s Health Week, June 10 – 16.

Armed with evidence linking erectile dysfunction to subsequent cardiovascular disease, the APA has issued a press release urging Australian men to put aside their embarrassment and have honest – and potentially lifesaving – discussions with their GP about their sexual health.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common but often neglected condition due to its intimate nature. Prevalence increases with age, with 61 per cent of men aged 45 or older reporting some form of dysfunction. 1

Worldwide, the prevalence of ED is estimated to be 300 million by 2025. Symptoms include premature ejaculation, problems with climaxing or changes to the shape or appearance of the penis including curvature (known as Peyronie’s disease).

“Most types of ED are related to issues such as infection, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, prostate abnormalities, anxiety or depression, medications, illicit drugs or alcohol consumption,” says APA men’s pelvic health physiotherapist Jo Milios. “However, a growing body of literature has identified erectile dysfunction as being associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). This may often be overlooked when men present to their doctor, but erectile dysfunction has a similar or greater predictive risk for cardiovascular events than traditional risk factors, such as family history or smoking.”

While ED can have a significant negative impact on men and their partners, it can be treated successfully.

– Jo Milios, Australian Physiotherapy Association

Milios says while ED can have a significant negative impact on men and their partners, it can be treated successfully. “Research shows that erectile dysfunction usually precedes coronary symptoms by around three years, and can therefore be considered an early marker of CVD. But this shouldn’t be seen as all doom and gloom. In fact, if men are experiencing any concerns with their sexual function they have plenty of time to address the potential heart health concerns that may follow.”

The evidence linking the two conditions was highlighted in a journal from the British Society of Sexual Medicine in 2017. 2

“A men’s pelvic health physiotherapist is perfectly placed to treat and educate men presenting with erectile dysfunction,” Professor Geoff Hackett concluded in the journal. “Pelvic floor muscle training is an effective and well established non-invasive technique to improve erectile dysfunction, and physio prescribed exercises can help with reducing the general risk of CVD in conjunction with treatment from their GP.”

Milios has some simple but pointed advice for men experiencing ED. “Don’t hold back from getting checked out, the earlier the better. Not only will it improve your bedroom form, it may just save your life down the track.”

1 https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2017/september/much-more-than-prescribing-a-pill/

2 Hackett G, Kirby M, Wylie K et al. British Society for Sexual Medicine Guidelines on the management of erectile dysfunction in men-2017. 2018. J Sex Med 15 430-57




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